7 Ways to Build Your Credit Score Without a Credit Card

Signing up for a credit card isn’t the only way to boost your credit score. Here are some different ways to skin that cat.

Unless you have a ton of cash at your disposal, you’ll probably need credit at some point in your life. Whether you’re buying a home, car or big-ticket luxury item, the first thing that most lenders typically look at is your credit score.

If you have limited or no credit history, you’ll need to begin building your credit and boost your score before you apply for a major loan. Unfortunately, many believe that opening and using a credit card is the only way to go.

Here are a few alternatives to help raise your credit scores without the magic plastic:

1. Ask companies to report on your behalf

Do you have any recurring bills that you pay on a monthly basis, such as rent, utilities, cable or a cellphone? Try giving the providers a call and request that they report your account activity to the three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.

Do this only if you have responsible payment habits, as payment history accounts for 35 percent of your credit scores and can have a significant impact if there is not a lot of other data in your credit reports.

Also, bear in mind that these companies are not obligated to report to the bureaus, and your request is simply a favor that they have the right to deny.

2. Become an authorized user on another credit card

Of course, there are pros and cons to becoming an authorized user. If the cardholder has a strong credit background, two thumbs up for you because signing on as an authorized user will enable their stellar behavior to improve your credit profile somewhat (perhaps not as much as you think). But, if things are the other way around, your credit scores could take a hit.

Either way, if you opt in and have a change of heart, the information will quickly vanish from your credit file when you request to be removed from the account.

3. Open an account with a credit union and take out a small personal loan

Some credit unions have restricted membership and limited accessibility, but credit unions generally offer financing options at lower interest rates than traditional banks. To give your credit score a boost, apply for a small personal loan.

If your request is denied, inquire about a secured loan in which your money, say, a certificate of deposit or savings account, will be used as collateral. The request will more than likely be approved because the risk to the institution is minimal. And you may have to pay a tad bit of interest, but the rate usually beats what’s available in the credit card world.

More Money Talks News


  • Wendy Clarke

    People hate credit cards, but you can build your credit with a secured credit card and not pay any interest. If you get a loan through the bank, secured or otherwise, there is interest involved. You just have to be responsible with the credit card usage, never spend more than you can pay back within the month.

    • Make sure your secured credit card account actually gets reported to the credit bureaus, though. Some of them aren’t, and they won’t do you any good for establishing credit.

      • Cat

        That’s true, however, when you show the credit union that you are a reliable payer, then you will now be considered a good risk. Then, they might convert your secured credit card into an unsecured card, which will get reported.

        • StanLee TOOL

          Be careful with, too. I went to a big cc issuer to get a secured card. “Good news! You’ve been approved for 3 different cards!”

          Me: “Well, unsecured is better than secured, right?”
          She kept using the word “”essentially, like that was tricky. I just didn’t get the info I needed, and ended up with a dying against my score, a new account that (I don’t think) I could close (?idk in hindsight if I could’ve just refused it. Doh), and worst of all, a tiny credit limit that took forever to raise.

          All of this hurt my 1st home purchase rate (the only reason I bothered with the credit bs) and doubled the excruciating buying process.

          I am not an employee. There are sites that will coach you, step by step, through the ridiculous credit building process. I like —Karman and Lndng Tree. There are others, just make sure they only do “soft pulls,” to monitor. I love* their calculators: Before you make a move, “What if i…?”

          If you are gearing up for your first house, or whatever, do your homework.

          Don’t open or close more than 1 account every 6 months.

          Don’t wait until you need credit to try to get it.

          Do your homework. It’ll save you time and money and headache.

    • StanLee TOOL

      There are other ways. Instead of just a savings account, get a cd, and make sure the bank reports to all 3 bureaus.

      The first lender I talked to, years ago, said they want to see a variety in your tradelines, not just cc.

      That is what I was looking for when I found this very basic article. Who else reports besides paid bills and cc?

      I like C Karma com and Lendn Tree, and I’m sure there are others. Readers, you have alot to learn beyond this article and comment section. Keep goggling.

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,136 more deals!